To Lead Climate Initiatives at Treasury, Biden Turns to Another UC Berkeley Academic

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UC Berkeley's Catherine Wolfram was tapped by Biden as deputy assistant secretary for climate and energy economics at the U.S. Treasury Department. (Jim Block for UC Berkeley Haas School of Business) (UC Berkeley Haas School of Business)

President Joe Biden has tapped Catherine Wolfram, a professor and associate dean at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, as his latest climate hire.

Wolfram is a leading expert on climate change and energy markets. She’ll serve as a deputy assistant secretary for climate and energy economics, a newly created position at the Treasury Department.

“It’s fantastic that the Biden Administration is paying so much attention to climate change, and I’m excited to be part of the efforts,” she said in a statement posted to the university’s website. “It’s one thing to sit in your office and write about what policy makers should and shouldn’t do, but I’m really curious to see how these decisions get made in practice.”

Her early academic career examined U.S. regulation of electricity markets. More recently, she’s studied climate change and energy issues in the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and India, and leading randomized controlled trials to evaluate energy programs in the U.S., Ghana and Kenya, the university said.

Catherine represents the sort of balanced, careful thinking about the environment and the need to address climate change that Biden has been talking about for his whole campaign and his early presidency,” Severin Borenstein, faculty director of the Energy Institute at Haas, said.

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He described her thinking as needing to take major steps on climate change, but in a cost effective way and with "careful analysis of the impact that these programs have [to] figure out what works, and what doesn't work as well."

One of her focuses might be how to encourage more sustainable economic development, Bornstein said.

Biden has now picked three women from Berkeley’s business school to staff his Treasury Department: Wolfram, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, a professor emerita, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Capital Access Adair Morse, an associate professor.

The university says Wolfram is already working in her new role.